Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, Jan. 27, 2017

Yellowstone National Park is a sister park to Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and is the site of Earth's largest concentration of
geysers, as well as steam vents, hot springs, and mudpots. These hydrothermal features attest to the region's volcanic history,
which spans over two million years. Old Faithful is visible in the upper right corner of this aerial view of the Park's Upper
Geyser Basin. The inset shows Heart Spring, also in Upper Geyser Basin, is a pool of near-boiling, blue water about
 10 feet across and 15 feet deep surrounded by mite sinter and orange-brown algae. Photo from National Park Service
TUTU & ME's parent organization, Partners in Developement Foundation, is drawing testimony to be presented at the state House of Representatives on Monday afternoon. The organization, with local headquarters in Na`alehu, carries out early education programs for children and caregivers in Ka`u and beyond. A statement from the organization suggests that supporters sign the following testimony or submit their own to help with funding for next year:
     "I am submitting this testimony to express my very strong support for the funding of family child interaction learning programs.
     "These programs provide families with tremendous support and prepare our keiki to make the transition into the formal learning process. Research has shown that there is a tremendous long-term savings to society when a child receives proper educational preparation.
      Family child interaction learning programs works closely with parents to teach them how to be their child’s first and foremost educator. It is a mixed delivery system that also equips parents to be well informed and how to be an advocate for their child.
     "Funding for these programs will provide a needed service to many of our keiki who today must enter a system without the proper preparation."
Tutu & Me sponsors early education that involves grandparents,
parents, aunties, uncles and other primary caregivers.
Photo from Partners in Development
     Anyone wanting submit such testimony, which could help Tutu & Me remain funded, can send it by noon on Monday to Betty Clark at eclk@pidfordevelopment.org.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

"IN HIS FIRST WEEK AS PRESIDENT, "Donald Trump has already floated the idea of reopening CIA black sites, issued two deeply disturbing executive orders on immigration, and called for an investigation into imaginary 'voter fraud.' And it’s only going to get worse," writes Sen. Mazie Hirono. "But we can’t get discouraged. Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress would like nothing more than for us to retreat. But we can send a clear message that our fight has only begun," said Hirono in a statement released Friday.
     Hirono also took after Trump's executive order to ban people from coming to the U.S. from such countries as Syria, Libya and Iran. Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement: "It's despicable that President Trump chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to issue yet another executive order that exploits fear of refugees and immigrants. This is wrong. I will continue to fight the President's extreme, knee jerk actions that divide our country."
     She and Hawai`i's other Senator, Brian Schatz, also objected to Trump's federal hiring freeze, with concern particularly for Pearl Harbor. Said a release from Hirono's office: "Sen. Mazie K. Hirono and a bipartisan group of seven Senators wrote to Secretary of Defense James Mattis to call for exempting Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees from the recent executive order signed by President Trump that freezes federal hiring. While the President's executive order states that it does not apply to military personnel or positions considered essential to meet national security responsibilities, the uncertainty has caused shipyards across the country to suspend hiring.
     "'We believe a hiring freeze may have a severe and adverse impact on the ability of the Navy and public shipyards to meet critical national security requirements and we urge you to immediately exempt all Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees," the Senators wrote. "The civilian men and women who support the Navy provide mission critical maintenance to ensure the Navy can meet security requirements around the world, and should thus be granted an exception."
     "We urge you to consider the impact of the Memorandum on the Navy, public shipyards and national security and issue clear guidance to immediately exempt all Navy shipyard civilians from the hiring freeze," the letter concludes.
     The letter was also signed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawai`i).
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

VETERANS FOR PEACE HAS ENDORSED Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's Stop Arming Terroist Act. Said Gabbard, "Those who have seen and experienced war first hand share a unique appreciation for the need for peace. From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has and continues to wage wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Veterans for Peace supports Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's anti-regime
change proposal in Congress.
     "I am grateful to have the support of Veterans for Peace for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and for their work to prevent the United States from continuing to pursue counterproductive, interventionist wars."
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I IS TOP STATE FOR PURCHASING EMPOYER-SPONSORED HEALTH INSURANCE, according to a survey of 11,000 employers. On Friday, the top five best and worst states for group health care costs were announced.
     Employer-sponsored health insurance is greatly affected by geographic region, industry, and employer size. While some cost trends have been fairly consistent since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  was put in place, United Benefit Advisors  finds several surprises in their 2016 Health Plan Survey.
     Based on responses from more than 11,000 employers, UBA announced the top five best and worst states for group health care costs. The top five best (least expensive) states are: Hawai`i; Idaho; Utah; Arkansas and Mississippi.
     Hawai`i, a perennial low-cost leader, actually experienced a nearly seven percent decrease in its single coverage cost in 2016. New Mexico, a state that was a low-cost winner in 2015, saw a 22 percent increase in monthly premiums for singles and nearly a 30 percent increase in monthly family premiums, dropping them from the "best" list.
    The top five worst (most expensive) states are: Alaska; Wyoming; New York; Vermont; and New Jersey.
     Wyoming catapulted onto the list this year with monthly premiums for singles and families increasing from $534 and $1,326, respectively in 2015 to $662 and $1,453, respectively in 2016 (representing nearly a 24 percent increase in single coverage and nearly a 10 percent increase in family coverage).
    "Benchmarking by state, region, industry, and group size is critical," says Les McPhearson, CEO of UBA. "We see it time and time again, especially with new clients. An employer benchmarks their rates nationally and they seem at or below average, but once we look at their rates by plan type across multiple carriers and among their neighboring competitors or like-size groups, we find many employers leave a lot on the bargaining table."

     After being hit the hardest in recent years, UBA finds small employer costs are lower than average overall, but family plans among these groups saw big rate hikes in 2016, making it harder for small businesses to be family-friendly employers.
     According to the survey, retail and construction employees are the cheapest to cover and employees in these sectors pick up more of the premium, so employers bear even less of the already low costs. Government employees get the richest and priciest plans, but are slowly being asked to pay more of the cost (albeit still far less than what other private sector employees pay).
    "Benchmarking at this level offers tremendous benefits that result in approximately 44 percent savings," says McPhearson. "Plus, being able to assure employees that they are getting a much better plan than their local competitors benefits UBA Partners from an attraction and retention standpoint."
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I ISLAND'S 2017 VOLCANO AWARENESS MONTH is almost over, and the Volcano Watch series about U.S. Geological Survey volcano observatories and their connections to Hawai`i is also coming to an end. This week, Volcano Watch visits the observatory that monitors a volcano that produced some of the largest eruptions known on Earth—Yellowstone:
Castle Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. USGS Photo
     Unlike the other four USGS volcano observatories—Hawaiian, Cascades Alaska and California—the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is a "virtual" observatory, meaning that there is no physical building. The observatory presence is mostly online, and the only full-time staff member is the YVO Scientist-in-Charge, who draws on scientists at other USGS observatories and from other institutions to support monitoring and research activities.
     YVO was founded in 2001 to strengthen the monitoring of volcanic and earthquake activity in the Yellowstone National Park region (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/yvo/).
     Initially developed as a cooperative effort of the USGS, National Park Service, and University of Utah, YVO was expanded in 2013 into a consortium of eight organizations: the original three partners, plus universities and state geological surveys in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, and UNAVCO (a non-profit university-governed consortium specializing in the study of ground deformation). This collaborative approach to volcano observation ensures better study and monitoring of active geologic processes and hazards.
     The YVO consortium shares the burden of establishing and maintaining equipment in the Yellowstone region. For example, the University of Utah operates the Yellowstone seismic network, UNAVCO works with GPS and other deformation data, and the USGS uses temperature and stream gages to track changes in hydrothermal activity throughout the National Park.
     As with Hawaiian volcanoes, GPS and satellite radar data indicate deformation of the Yellowstone caldera, and ground-based seismic stations monitor the occurrence of thousands of earthquakes in any given year. Over the past several decades, the caldera has been observed to rise and fall by several centimeters (inches) per year, often accompanied by intense seismicity.
Grand Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. USGS Photo
     A recent spectacular period of deformation occurred in 2013–2014, when the Norris Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone National Park, on the northwest edge of the caldera, began to uplift suddenly by several centimeters (inches) per year. The uplift lasted until March 30, 2014, when a magnitude-4.8 earthquake occurred—the largest earthquake in the region since 1980!
     Immediately thereafter, the region began subsiding. Scientists believe that the uplift was caused by fluid accumulation—probably water or gas—beneath the Norris area. The earthquake represented the breaking of a seal or valve on the hydrothermal system, which allowed the accumulated fluid to drain away and the ground to subside.
     It's worth noting that the same region began uplifting again in early 2016, although the rate was slightly less than that in 2014. In the last few months, the rate of uplift has slowed considerably. No strong earthquakes have occurred in the region thus far.
     Although Yellowstone is clearly the focus of YVO's monitoring and research efforts, the observatory is also responsible for tracking volcanic activity in the Intermountain West, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Each of these states is home to volcanoes that have erupted within the past few thousand years. For example, Arizona's Sunset Crater erupted in 1085 A.D., and the McCartys lava flow in New Mexico's Zuni-Bandera Volcanic Field erupted about 3,000 years ago.
Boiling Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
USGS Photo
    Comparatively little is known about some of the southwestern U.S. volcanoes, and monitoring infrastructure is limited, so YVO supports efforts to better understand this volcanism and its potential hazards. Current and former HVO scientists have been active in interpreting the geologic history of the region, including the basaltic lava flows of New Mexico and the cinder cones of Arizona and Colorado—volcanic areas that bear a striking resemblance to Hawaiian volcanoes.
     Volcano Awareness Month programs are being offered at Hilo's Lyman Museum on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2, and in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on Jan. 31. Details are posted on HVO's website (https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov).
     For information about volcanic activity throughout the United States, please visit the USGS Volcano Hazards Program website (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov).
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HO`OMALU KA`U, The Ka`u Heritage Center, will hold a Giant Rummage Sale fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Na`alehu Hongwanji from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For sale will be tools, household goods, car parts, artwork, jewelry, collectibles, clothes toys, books, utensils, glass, and more. Funds raised will be used for programs in Ka`u. Call 929-8526, or email hoomalukau@gmail.com to donate any items, or with questions about the fundraiser or about Ho`omalu Ka`u.

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